Joined: 12/03/2017 22:31:37
EAST LANSING – Michigan State’s fate had been sealed and there was nothing to lose. Coach Mark Dantonio knew all week that if the http://www.dantecubed.com/tony-romo-jersey-c-2_19.html Spartans had a chance against Ohio State that he would go for 2.
It came with a little less than 5 minutes left in the game. And it didn’t connect.
The result was another in a string of disappointments last season, but MSU’s 17-16 loss proved to be the starting point for the defensive resurgence the 16th-ranked Spartans are experiencing this year.
“Obviously we’re a whole new football team,” sophomore safety David Dowell said Wednesday. “I think the biggest thing for us this year that we didn’t actually bring last year is the ability to finish. We’ve been able to do that for most of our games this year, and a lot of the games have been close.
“So if the game does come down close, we’ve finished before this year. So we know how to finish games.”
MSU faces the No. 11 Buckeyes on Saturday at noon in Ohio Stadium (Fox). Both teams enter with 7-2 overall records and 5-1 Big Ten marks that have them tied for the East Division lead.
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“It just gives us an opportunity to show how good we are and how far we’ve come,” senior captain Chris Frey said.
The Spartans pulled off a 27-24 upset of No. 13 Penn State, and all five of their Big Ten wins have been by a combined 25 points. Ohio State got beaten, 55-24, on Saturday at Iowa, but the Buckeyes also pulled off a 1-point win over the Nittany Lions with a furious fourth-quarter comeback. That 39-38 victory is Ohio State’s only game this season decided by less than 15 points.
It’s a far cry from a year ago, when MSU finished the season 3-9 and the Buckeyes escaped East Lansing and earned a spot in the College Football Playoff despite not winning the division.
“A lot of our young players now are more experienced players and they have some success and they have won on the field,” Dantonio said. “I'm talking about winning their individual battles on the field. They have lost some, too, and they understand it's OK to lose some on the field. But they have got an opportunity to win some. I think that breeds confidence in them and they are able to play a little bit more sure of themselves.”
MSU’s defense got a three of its season-total 11 sacks against the Buckeyes last year despite playing without Malik McDowell and seven other injured defensive players. The Spartans held quarterback J.T. Barrett to just 86 passing http://www.officialcowboysprosale.com/kyle-wilber-jersey-c-1_37.html yards. The Buckeyes’ 17 points were their fewest in a game that season.
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But Barrett had for 105 rushing yards and Detroit Cass Tech product Mike Weber ran for 111, scoring Ohio State’s go-ahead touchdown with 5:33 left in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, LJ Scott ran eight straight times for 56 yards. He scored a 1-yard touchdown with 4:53 to play to draw the Spartans within a point.
But Dantonio said he had planned all week to go for the win. MSU went for the 2-point conversion to try and take a lead instead of a tying extra-point attempt, but the Buckeyes’ Malik Hooker intercepted Tyler O’Connor’s pass intended for Jamal Lyles.
“We draw motivation from everything, our entire record last year. And Ohio State being one of those games, too,” MSU junior linebacker Andrew Dowell said. “We looked at those games last year, we were all in winnable positions. We just had to finish, so that’s something we’re focusing on hard this year.”
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Offensively, MSU this season is drastically improved from that team on that cold, windy day. Quarterback Brian Lewerke is coming off the first back-to-back 400-yard games in MSU history.
Defensively, what MSU did against the Buckeyes that afternoon carried over into this season. The Spartans are first in the Big Ten and third in the country against the run, allowing just 87 yards a game. No player has run for more than 67 yards individually against them this season.
“It's just a matter of getting things back together, working hard,” co-offensive coordinator Jim Bollman said this week. “The guys really believe in each other.”